‘Militant’ builds strike support, protests Putin’s war in Ukraine

By Brian Williams
May 2, 2022
James Harris, SWP candidate for Washington, D.C., mayor, right, talks with Howard University student Imani Hutchinson at April 11 rally supporting one-day strike by D.C. Nurses Association.
Militant/Glova ScottJames Harris, SWP candidate for Washington, D.C., mayor, right, talks with Howard University student Imani Hutchinson at April 11 rally supporting one-day strike by D.C. Nurses Association.

The Socialist Workers Party is campaigning, using the Militant to get out its program, and seeking to put its candidates in New Jersey on the ballot. The drive got off to a solid start April 17. The party is running Joanne Kuniansky in the 8th Congressional District and Lea Sherman in the 9th District. So far 88 people have signed petitions toward the goal of 300, triple the amount required.

Party members are using the SWP statement, “Defend Ukraine’s independence! For defeat of Moscow’s invasion! U.S. troops, nuclear arms out of Europe, all of Europe!”

“The capitalist rulers use war to step up exploitation and oppression at home,” Kuniansky said. “Our response is to deepen our participation in union battles,” including winning solidarity for striking miners at Warrior Met in Alabama, as well as joining fights against cop brutality and championing the actions of other victims of capitalist “justice.” Everywhere SWP candidates are running, they explain the working class needs to advance on a road toward taking political power from the capitalist rulers and into our own hands.

Washington’s harsh sanctions against Russia “have no impact on the higher classes. The working classes get hurt the most,” student Imani Hutchinson told James Harris, SWP candidate for mayor of Washington, D.C., at an April 11 rally backing a one-day work stoppage by the District of Columbia Nurses Association, who are demanding bosses hire more workers.

Regardless of who they target, “sanctions are used to cause pain to workers,” Harris said, pointing out that their devastating impact is used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to rally support for his regime and its war. They’re an obstacle to building solidarity between working people in Ukraine and Russia against Putin’s war.

“U.S. sanctions are also used against Cuba’s socialist revolution, where the government there fights in the interests of the working class,” Harris said. Hutchinson purchased a Militant subscription and the book Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity, by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and SWP leaders George Novack and Mary-Alice Waters.

Discussions with working people like this are at the heart of the international propaganda campaign by the SWP and Communist Leagues in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. The goal is to win 1,600 new readers to the Militant, sell 1,600 books and raise $165,000 for the Militant Fighting Fund. Contributions to the fund go a long way toward broadening the reach of the paper, as opportunities expand for presenting a working-class road forward.

“I’m disgusted by what the cop did,” Chelsea Miller told Naomi Craine, SWP candidate for Illinois governor, when Craine visited Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 17, shortly after the cop killing of factory worker Patrick Lyoya in the city.

“I’m also disgusted by what I see in health care,” said Miller, who works in a hospital and is studying to be a registered nurse. “I see medical techs working their tail off and they can’t make ends meet. It shouldn’t depend on your income whether people get health care or not.”

“Only the working class organizing to take political power can open the door to ending the profit-driven crises and brutality of capitalism,” Craine said. Miller subscribed to the Militant and purchased Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes.

Later that day, Craine was one of the speakers at a rally of nearly 50 people in downtown Grand Rapids to demand the prosecution of the cop who killed Lyoya.

“Police brutalizing working people is built into capitalist society, along with the wars like we’re seeing in Ukraine,” she said. “We call for Russian troops to get out of Ukraine, and for U.S. troops out of Europe.” Two participants subscribed to the Militant and bought books.

Attracted to Sankara’s speeches

At an apartment complex in St. Cloud, Minnesota, April 16, David Rosenfeld, SWP candidate for Congress, met Brunette Mawambe, a caregiver at an assisted living facility who is originally from Cameroon. Mawambe said that they were short-staffed at her workplace and this makes it more difficult for both workers and patients.

Rosenfeld showed her the Militant and some books drawing lessons of past working-class struggles. Mawambe was immediately attracted to books containing speeches by Thomas Sankara, the central leader of the 1983-87 revolution in Burkina Faso, West Africa. “I know about Sankara, and that he was a champion of the people,” she said. “I want to find out more about him.”

She purchased a Militant subscription along with the book Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle, where Sankara explains why fighting to end the subjugation of women was crucial to advancing the revolution he led.

A special campaigning effort is being organized May 17-31 to place the SWP candidates in Minnesota on the ballot. In addition to Rosenfeld, the SWP is running Gabrielle Prosser for governor and Kevin Dwire for lieutenant governor.

Rulers’ attacks at home and abroad

In Montreal, Communist League members Annette Kouri and Katy LeRougetel spoke with nurse Monique Wilson at her doorstep April 17.

“Working people have to defend ourselves against attacks by wealthy rulers,” Kouri said as she described the stakes for working people in defending Ukrainian sovereignty.

“During the pandemic I worked up to 106 hours a week,” Wilson said. “But then I had to take a vacation. And when I came back, I fought to reduce my hours. Now they hire new people, but after a week I don’t see them anymore. They leave.”

“We need to use our unions to fight against conditions like these,” LeRougetel said. “That’s why we encourage people to join strikers’ picket lines and build solidarity through our unions.” Wilson got a Militant subscription and Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power.

To help expand the reach of the Militant, contact the SWP nearest you. To contribute to the Militant Fighting Fund, make out a check to the Militant and send it to 306 W. 37th St., 13th floor, New York, NY 10018, or donate online.